Recently, we had the honor of attending the preview party for Knott’s Berry Farm’s 100th anniversary celebration. We arrived at Knott’s in the early evening and walked around the beautifully-decorated park, taking in the sights. Boysenberry-colored ribbons and bows adorn much of the pathways. Locations like the Gold Trails Hotel, Calico Saloon, and Calico Main Stage all looked stunning. After settling in, we watched an opening ceremony with clips of Knott’s memories as told by various celebrities, an intro from Jon Storbeck (the park president), and some reveals of various park characters to be found wandering the pathways during the 100th anniversary celebration. One minor mention from Storbeck was about Knott’s Merry Farm later this year, and gives us much hope that it will be proceeded by Knott’s Scary Farm!
🎃An aside as to the Scary Farm, several theme park blogs and YouTube channels have been showing video and photos of Knott’s Scary Farm mazes under construction. It stands to reason that the venerable haunt event will return this year – as to what extent, that remains to be seen, so stay tuned!🎃
After the presentation, we journeyed over to the Calico Mine Ride, followed by Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair. Bear-Y Tales: Return to the Fair is a 4D dark ride with shooting elements a la the Astro Blasters attraction at the “park down the street” and Knott’s previous attraction in the same location, Voyage to the Iron Reef. Bear-Y Tales: Return to the Fair takes a more whimsical foray into ride-shooters with guests lobbing blasts of boysenberry jam at those pesky Coyotes that try to ruin the fair and steal all the pies for themselves! The 3D video/glasses system in the ride is simply the best I have ever seen on a theme park ride – ever. The 3D is smooth and did not illicit any ill feelings while riding the attraction. The boysenberry blasters utilize a pull string system similar to Toy Story Midway Mania and, for the most part, worked well. There were a few times, however, that the interactive ride did not register my string pull. But, I digress, as the overall ride experience more than made up for it.
Still… And I am about to digress yet again, part of me wishes that Knott’s had gone all-in on making an entirely new Bear-Y Tales experience with real, physical animatronics, and sets. More and more, theme parks are opting for projection effects, 3D ride video, and other gimmicks which take away from the craftsmanship of practical, in-your-face characters and theming. Now that I’ve come off sounding like some crochety old timer complaining about “Back in my day…”, it’s back to our event experience!
After riding the two attractions, we headed out to find some of the various good eats available to park guests. I think my favorite of the night had to be the fried chicken sandwich. The catch is, instead of bread or buns, they use Krispy Kreme-style donuts! It was sweet, salty, and savory. The boysenberry funnel cake was, of course, outstanding (Knott’s is well-known for its special funnel cake recipe), and we had some great pulled pork and chicken over at the Boardwalk BBQ. The boysenberry cider was still incredible (it’s the same recipe as sampled in their previous tasting event) and, overall, Knott’s is bringing out some great food for the celebration. Additionally, Knott’s has brought back its Knott’s Summer Nights event, which sees various musical performers and Dj’s entertain guests on select evenings.
Scattered throughout the park, you’ll find some very cool photo opportunities based on various Knott’s attractions of yesteryear. Attractions such as the parachute ride, Soap Box Racers, Haunted Shack, and a lot more. Each photo op has its own gimmick – like the Soap Box Racers photo op featuring racers you can sit in, or the Haunted Shack featuring one of the attractions illusions. They even brought out the full-size, lit-up letter “K” sign that used to adorn the Sky Tower before being replaced by a more modern version with LEDs. It’s a great nod to the past and provides guests with even more enjoyment – especially those guests old enough to remember the original attractions!
Overall, the “Knott’s 100th Anniversary: A Knott’s Family Reunion” celebration is an outstanding way to get back into theme parks now that the light is at the end of the COVID tunnel. The rides are as great, food is fantastic, and entertainment – well – entertaining. The celebration runs until September 6th, so head over to Knott’s official website for more information.